Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: The Captain's Daughter by Leah Fleming

Pages: 576
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical,
Australia Release: Feburary 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
RRP: $29.99
Received book from publisher

The secrets in a woman's heart are deeper than the ocean…
For May Smith, travelling with her husband and baby girl Ellen, stepping foot on the Titanic marks the start of an incredible journey, one which is destined to take her from the back streets of Bolton to the land of opportunity: the United States.
But when the 'unsinkable' Titanic hits an iceberg one cold dark night, May's dreams are instantly shattered. Jumping from the sinking ship at the last minute, May loses sight of Joe and Ellen. Distraught, she is pulled into a lifeboat. Minutes later, the real-life Captain Smith swims to the lifeboat and hands May a baby swaddled in blankets.
Beside herself, and in virtual darkness, May believes the baby to be Ellen. This rescue is witnessed by fellow survivor, Celeste Parkes, married to an American industrialist who is on her way back to Ohio after her mother's funeral.
In horror, they both watch the death throes of the mighty ship; May traumatised, knowing her husband has drowned, Celeste wishing her bully of a husband had been on board and out of her life.
As the dawn comes up, and the two women are rescued by the Carpathia, a friendship is formed, one which is destined to transcend the Atlantic and social differences between them and last a lifetime. Then May makes a shocking discovery and a split-second decision which will change the lives of so many.
I've noticed in historical fiction that there seems to be a few sub genres based on the time period of the novel. There are books in this genre that can be categorised as "World War II" historical fiction and "Victorian" historical fiction. I've noticed a few novels busting on to the scene lately that sit in the "Titanic" category and when given the opportunity to read a book in this category I just had to take it. The thing is though, that this book actually covers quite a few important events and issues from the first half of the twentieth century...
The 'Titanic' section of the novel is actually much shorter than I thought it would be. This novel is more or less about what happened during the sinking of the ship and how it shaped the characters lives forever. The Titanic is also mentioned many times in characters conversations. Some treated the event as a life lesson, while others spoke of it as a tragedy. It was definitely interesting to read a novel where the author attempted to recreate such a famous tragedy and show it to her readers from various viewpoints. The captain of the ship is also an important character in the story even though we only hear about him from other characters.
I think the characters in the novel were very realistic. I think this author did well to write a novel in third person and to still have characters that felt real. I was a little annoyed that the characters didn't do what I wanted them to, but then again I think this book probably would have been too predictable if it had.
Even though this book seemed lengthy, the chapters were short and written concisely. Fleming still managed to add plenty of detail to the story without using too much space and I'm glad for this, because this book was big enough already. I think for the size of the book 'The captain's daughter' does cover a large fraction of time and have many messages within.
The title of the story is also a bit of a trick, because when you read the synopsis about the captain rescuing the baby you could easily assume that he was handing her his own child. This however is not the case. The title has it's own different meaning within the text.
I quite liked the symbolism of the shoes in the story too. It was like Cinderella except the shoes weren't going to lead the heroine to a prince, but were more like a key to unlocking her family history.
The main thing I didn't like about this book was the anti-climatic-ness. It felt like I  was going through the motions turning the page. I did like the characters and feel for them, but the excitement didn't really pick up much. I think this is a common problem with this genre and why books of this genre, probably take me more time to read. I was also a little disappointed with the ending, because it felt like the author just stopped. I understand that a lot of authors write novels that end in a poetic "And tomorrow is another day" sort of way, but this one seemed like it was missing something. I also wish that the main character had found someone to love at the end.
Overall, I think this book is worth 4/5 stars. There wasn't anything in it that made me go "Wow", but it was still a pretty good read. I think this book was very creative and would like to read more by this author soon!One good thing about this novel was that it wasn't spoiled by any crude language or sex scenes.
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